I was thinking about gratitude as I prepared for my presentation to about 20 members of their HR and coaching communities. Yet again I find that my descriptions of narrative coaching are more and more about the ability to be simply and deeply human in the presence of another person with intention. Gratitude is essential for keeping within the non-judgmental frame that is at the core of narrative coaching.
I also came to realize that gratitude also plays an important, yet unacknowledged, role in learning. It enables us to soften the grip with which we hold on to certain stories—even those that actually keep us from what we most dearly want. I thought if that in the course of my travels to Europe when I encountered on several occasions people who were so caught up in their own world that they did not recognize they were infringing on everyone around them.
I saw in reflecting on those encounters how I trapped myself in stories about them—and more broadly the state of the world—in ways that continued to hinder my experience long after they had gone. Gratitude is not about condoning, but rather about freeing ourselves to learn and pivot in the moment. It is one of the key skills we teach in our programs, as part of moving away from old explanations and into new experiences.
Gratitude is an act of appreciation for the gift of awakening, a release of the grip and an opening to learn and step into a more generative story. It is being grateful for the discovery of what one needs to learn, which then enables us to move toward a new story. It is available to us each and every moment, though it often becomes more obvious to us when our Shadows cross our path.
What is yours to learn in this moment? Will you allow in a sense of gratitude to soften your narrative grip?
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.